50 Wins the Hard Way: Twins Beat Cliff Lee To Sweep Tribe

Dan WadeSenior Analyst IJuly 6, 2008

The Twins won their 50th game of the season in stereotypical fashion on Sunday. No Twin had more than one hit, more than one run, or more than one RBI, yet the hits came exactly when they needed to come, and the Twins defeated Cliff Lee and the Indians 4-3. It was just Lee's second loss all season, and his first to an AL team.

Glen Perkins scattered seven hits over his seven innings of work to throw a quality start and to keep the Twins within striking distance. Perkins won his third-consecutive decision and has not lost since May 30.

As nice as this win was, and beating a pitcher as hot as Cliff Lee has been is always nice, getting win No. 50 before the All-Star break is even better. Last season, the Twins didn't get their 50th win until July 20, well after the break, and they were still just three games over .500 at that point.

It took them until July 16, 2006 to reach 50 wins, despite winning 20 of 21 games from June 8-July 4.

After an offseason of big-name losses and few major additions, almost no one expected the Twins to reach 50 even as fast as they did last year, let alone two weeks earlier!

Baseball Prospectus pegged the Twins (and Royals) to win just 73 games. The Twins would need to win just over one-third of their remaining games, a far cry from their current .563 winning percentage, to reach that mark.

The Twins are guaranteed to head into the All-Star break with a record above .500, even though they have a stretch of seven, tough games between them and their much-earned rest.

Their series with Boston has serious Wild-Card implications, since the Sawx hold just a half-game lead over the Twins in the Wild-Card standings, and these are the last games the teams will play head-to-head.

Playing meaningful games at the end of the first half is something even the homers didn't see coming. This team was rebuilding for next year, but after a game like Sunday's, it is easy to see why the Twins are a team to watch out for in the second half.

As a brief aside, the number 50 was an apropos subject for this article, as it is my 50th article on Bleacher Report. Thanks a lot to those who have edited for me, left comments, and most of all, to those have read my work!